r Letter From Eastie: Scenic Wonders.
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Collaged view of Boston, from East Boston

Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Scenic Wonders.

Where can you see a 35 foot Madonna, watch commercial jets taking off and landing, attend a mass in Portuguese, pick up that new set of rosary beads you've been meaning to buy, and maybe even knock off some of that community service requirement working with the elderly? What a silly question. East Boston, of course.

Located at 111 Orient Ave, The Madonna Queen National Shrine was founded by Don Orione fathers in 1954. The Madonna herself is 35 feet tall and was sculpted by an artist named Arrigo Minerbi. All around her in the plaza are beautiful mosaics depicting important moments in the life of the virgin. The shrine sits almost at the top of a large hill in the Orient Heights section of Eastie. From the back of the shrine you can see a panoramic view of Boston, East Boston, Logan Airport, and parts of Winthrop and Revere. When I was a child, you could visit the top of the shrine in the "crown" and see a 360 degree view, but I'm not sure if that feature is still open. The statue and plaza are not the only thing the shrine has to offer. Down under the plaza, built into the hillside is a 4 story building housing a church, a gift shop, and function rooms. The church at the shrine has recently become the headquarters for the Brazilian Catholic apostolate in East Boston and masses are offered in Portuguese. Across the street from the shrine is the Don Orione Home for the elderly. In front of the Don Orione home is a tiny plaza where visitors can, for a $3.00 donation (on the honor system), light a seven-day votive candle and offer a prayer.

The best time to visit the shrine is either around Christmas time when Christmas lights are put up all around the plaza, a large creche is set up in the center and Christmas music is piped in through the loud speakers. The other good time to visit the shrine is in the wamer parts of the Spring or during the Summer when the wind that whips through the plaza will feel refreshing rather than icy. The gift shop is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily. For information call (617) 569-2100.

Because I am dedicated to this blog and to all three of my regular readers, I woke up early Saturday morning and risked freezing my fingers off in order to bring you pictures of the shrine.


The sign at the entrance to the plaza.


A view of the statue and the plaza from across the street.


Inside the plaza


Statue of Christ. The dedication plaque for the plaza sits at the base of this statue.


The 35 foot Madonna taken from the base of the tower.


Close-up of the Madonna's face.


One of the many mosaics surrounding the plaza.


Holy Week 2005 service schedules, printed in English and
Portuguese, hanging outside the church.


One of the two angel statues that stand at
the top of the gates at the entrance to the shrine.


Sign asking for $3.00 donation to light a 7-day votive candle.


I had to light a candle myself and place it with the rest.


The fountain in the candle plaza, looking toward the shrine.


View of Boston, from the shrine.


View of Consitution Beach, East Boston, from the shrine.


View of Logan Airport from the shrine.


  • At 1:46 PM, Blogger The Greek Princess said…

    What a truly amazing post! Loved the pictures and the well detailed info! I used to go to that statue to view the boston skyline. last time i went was last aug. Love it there. so beautiful!

    keep up the good work!

  • At 11:08 PM, Blogger Shelley said…

    Great pictures, Marilora! I've driven by the sign for the shrine for my entire life, but I've never actually gone to see it live and up close. Thanks for bringing it to me right here in my Eastie living room.

  • At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wonderful pictures of Eastie! I was born and raised in Eastie and I moved away 20 years ago, seeing your pics brought back so many happy memories! I hope you will put up lots more Eastie pics.


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